You Canít Manage What You Donít Measure Ė The Importance of TAB In Lab Commissioning

Chris Schmidt, B2Q Associates
Simon von Nieda, B2Q Associates

All too frequently, lab building re-commissioning efforts do not adequately account for inaccuracies of data being reported from building automation systems. This presentation will highlight the importance of involving a Testing, Adjusting and Balancing (TAB) contractor as part of the lab building RCx process, and how their role is critical for project success. Involving TAB allows the RCx team to be confident in the functional testing results, system analysis and energy savings calculations while giving lab Owners and operators assurance in project results and economics.

Properly executed TAB enables the commissioning agent, engineers and operators to confidently make informed decisions about building HVAC systems. It is important to perform TAB during multiple phases of an RCx project. TAB performed during the onset of a project helps correctly establish building baseline operating conditions and enables the RCx team to accurately document initial lab air change rates, ventilation conditions, energy use and primary equipment operating conditions. Additionally, it is imperative to confirm building-level measurements and specifications such as total building airflow, laboratory pressurization and static pressure profiles throughout ductwork.

TAB performed after new ventilation setpoints, controls modifications, or system-level changes are made during the RCx project helps ensure the building is operating as intended at the appropriate airflows at the conclusion of the project. One pitfall of traditional TAB performed during building construction is that VAVs and air valve K-factors are often determined based on measurements taken at design maximum airflow conditions; rarely do these devices operate under such conditions, especially considering common over-sizing of terminal devices. This results in inaccuracies and potentially unsafe lab conditions due to actual flows not matching their BAS-reported flow. It is critical to calibrate terminal devices at their final operating conditions and typical operating flow or range of flows to ensure accurate airflow measurement, which will result in more precise control and confidence that the target ACH setpoints are being met.

In summary, incorporating knowledgeable and skilled TAB contractors during all phases of laboratory commissioning and/or re-commissioning is a critical factor for a successful project.

Learning Objectives

  • Review industry standards for TAB and recommended Improvements;
  • Describe the role of the Testing, Adjusting, & Balancing (TAB) contractor in verifying laboratory safety and optimizing operating costs;
  • Explain the impact of proper TAB on laboratory buildings on the long-term safety, performance, operating costs of lab buildings and the wellbeing of its occupants; and
  • Address importance of recurring TAB measurements in lab environments on the general lab ventilation systems, not just the fume hoods.


Chris is a Principal and Vice President with B2Q Associates and is a mechanical engineer with a Masters of Science in Engineering from the University of Dayton, with a focus in commercial and industrial building energy efficiency. He has over 18 years experience working in building efficiency, HVAC mechanical and controls systems optimization, re-commissioning, and project management and he co-teaches the Association of Energy Engineers Existing Buildings Commissioning course.

Simon is a Designer with B2Q Associates and is a mechanical engineer with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has 4 years of experience working in energy efficiency, controls systems, and re-commissioning, with a focus on laboratory buildings. He has been the primary designer on multiple laboratory Retro-Commissioning design and implementation projects which have achieved upwards of 2,500,000 kWh in avoided energy costs.


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